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Tony McCoy used to think of marriage as 'handicap to career'

By Lisa Smyth

Published 02/11/2015

Racing legend AP McCoy with his wife Chanelle
Racing legend AP McCoy with his wife Chanelle

Racing legend AP McCoy has revealed he delayed marrying his wife over fears starting a family would affect his career.

The 20-time champion jockey said he was worried he would lose his edge if he had children.

However, writing in his new autobiography, McCoy said tying the knot and having children actually improved his performance.

"Having children definitely helped me and my career in ways that I hadn't anticipated," wrote the dad-of-two who hails from Moneyglass, Co Antrim.

"Obviously they made me happier, there's no prouder father in the land than me, but you sometimes hear it said that when people in sport get married and have kids they lose their edge and start having different priorities.

"It was something I was genuinely worried about - look at how I tried to put off marrying Chanelle for as long as I did -and there's no doubt that when you have kids you do have different priorities because they are immediately the most important thing in your life.

"Contrary to what I'd feared, having the children made me a better person and a better sportsman because they stopped me from getting too up or too down.

"When I came home from racing, no matter whether I'd had a brilliant day or a rotten day, Eve and Archie didn't give a toss.

"All that mattered was that daddy was home and they were delighted to see me and that immediately took my racing cares away. Well, most of them."

McCoy first met his Galway-born wife, Chanelle, in 1996 when she was just 19.

It's not the first time he has admitted putting his career in front of family and he previously described his 2011 autobiography as a long apology to his wife.

"I only thought about myself and my career," he said at the time.

"That was the important thing as far as I was concerned - making sure I was successful. I'd tell my younger self not to be so hard on my wife.

"We've been together a long time, and it's only now she's being paid back for all the hardship over the years."

In his latest autobiography, Winner: My Racing Life, which is out this Thursday, McCoy also touched on his final race and described the moment he realised he wasn't going to win.

"It was only then, when I had to reluctantly admit to myself the race was lost, that something other than the thunder of hooves and the rhythm of my own breathing muscled in on my thought process," he said.

"This is it, said a voice in my head, this really is the end.

"I was now a matter of seconds away from the moment all the numbers stopped forever.

"My whole career, my whole adult life even, had been built on making those numbers click upwards as fast as I could but in a little over a couple of furlongs they would never move again."

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